In an information-driven society, ownership of intellectual property has become an increasingly controversial topic. This dispute essentially involves supporters of two philosophies of innovation: intellectual property (IP) and open source development (OSD).
Supporters of IP believe that innovators need to have the legal right to their innovations in order for there to be an incentive to encourage intellectual progress. Without the right to claim IP and obtain the right to exclude, there is a fear of freeloaders who reap the benefits that innovators have worked so hard to sow.
On the other hand, there are proponents of OSD who believe in order to progress as a society as far as knowledge is concerned, all innovation should be open to anyone. In class it was discussed that knowledge is what leads to progress and the best way to increase knowledge is to make it available to everyone.
To be honest, I was a supporter of IP because as an engineer, I would want to have the rights to my product. However, after reading “Role of Intellectual Property in Innovation and New Product Development” by Christopher M. Kalanje and discussions in class, I came to understand some of the short-comings of IP.
First of all, I discovered that IP can create something of a wasteland of ideas. Because it is difficult to commercialize some inventions, after they become IP they become stagnant as no one else can build upon the knowledge or gain from it. IP also seems to keep major businesses in power without allowing for real development from smaller companies as everything they develop will simply get bought out.
As a Computer Science major, I thought I would want to work for a startup after graduating. However, I’ve come to see that the goal of startups is to get bought out by larger corporations. I feel like this is a sad realization as I would not get to see my work come to fruition.
I feel like Open Source is really beneficial to the software industry as it leads to rapid technological growth. I’m currently working on an Android application; it’s hosted on github and is currently open-source. I personally feel that making my projects open source is nice for a few reasons.
First of all, I’m using a lot of code from other open source projects, so I feel that it would only be fair to make mine open source as well. Secondly, I feel like I can’t really commercialize my product but perhaps someone else could take my ideas and develop them into a product that could be widely used. Finally, I think I’m mostly using this as a way to show employers what I can do so in that aspect in needs to be open to the public for them to see and want to use.
In summary, while I do see IP as a viable option in terms of inventions, I feel that I side more with OSD especially in my field of software development. IP does have its purposes and if it is not abused, it works wonderfully. There does not seem to be a way to manage everything perfectly and no matter how knowledge grows, there will be people who take advantage of the work of others. I do believe however that information will develop at a faster rate if people have access to more of it so OSD is the philosophy that I subscribe to right now.
Kalajne, Christopher , Role of Intellectual Property in Innovation and New Product Development, http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/sme/en/documents/pdf/ip_innovation_development.pdf
“Open Collaborative Design.” Open Collaborative Design – AdCiv. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <http://www.adciv.org/Open_collaborative_design#Why_is_this_a_good_thing.3F>.